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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 750: DVD-92

Papers of Fay Chandler, 1929-2012 (inclusive), 1965-2010 (bulk)


Papers of artist Fay Chandler contain elementary school papers and report cards; juvenilia; correspondence; artwork; exhibition-related material; publicity; photographs; and her web site.


  • Creation: 1929-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1965-2010

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Unrestricted. An appointment is necessary to use any audiovisual material.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Fay Chandler is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


6.25 linear feet ((15 file boxes) plus 5 photograph folders, 1 DVD, electronic records)

The papers of artist Fay Chandler document the progression of a Boston area artist and art community member, and contain elementary school papers and report cards; juvenilia; correspondence; artwork; exhibition-related material; publicity; and photographs. A quarter of the collection arrived in three-ring binders, which were disassembled due to preservation issues. The remainder of the collection was in folders and labeled, while a very small section was loose within the boxes. Chandler's original folder titles appear in quotation marks in the inventory.

See also the Additional papers of the Poor family, 1778-2008, MC 620, for correspondence with Fay, her husband Alfred, and her mother, as well as biographical material on Alfred Chandler. Fay Chandler's web site is being captured periodically as part of Harvard University Library's Web Archive Collection service (WAX); searchable archived versions of the web site are available through this finding aid.

Series I, BIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONAL, 1929-2012 (#1.1-2.5, PD.1), includes early childhood drawings, report cards and papers from elementary school; her high school yearbook; honors/awards; and travel journals with sketches. Files are arranged in chronological order.

Series II, CORRESPONDENCE, 1942-2011 (#2.6-12.4), includes holiday and greeting cards, poems, and letters re: Chandler's art, exhibitions, loss of Chandler's husband Alfred, etc. The series is arranged with Fay's letters to others, followed by letters from Alfred's sister Quita, and then an alphabetical arrangement as organized by Chandler, that includes family, friends, and associates.

Series III, ART-RELATED, 1958-2012 (#12.5-15.15, PD.2-PD.5v, DVD-92.1, E.1), includes drawings; binders Chandler accumulated that document her exhibitions and art over the years; guest books from openings; Fells Point Gallery information and scrapbook; Art Connection founding papers, anniversaries; exhibition catalogs and clippings from later years; etc. Folders are arranged in chronological order.

Most of the photographs in this collection are or will be cataloged in VIA, Harvard University's Visual Information Access database. Others, referred to as "uncataloged" photographs, are not of sufficient research interest to warrant cataloging and are simply treated as part of the documents they accompany; they are marked on the back with an asterisk in square brackets [*].


Artist Fay Martin Chandler was born in 1923 in Norfolk, Virginia. She graduated with a sociology degree from Sweet Briar College in Amherst, Virginia (B.A. 1943), and the following year married Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., a Harvard College graduate who went on to become a professor of business history at the Harvard Business School. They had four children: Alpine "Dougie" Douglas (Chandler) Bird (b.1945), Mary "Mimi" Morris (Chandler) Watt (b.1948), Alfred "Appy" Dupont Chandler III (b.1951), and Howard Martin Chandler (b.1958). They moved around, spending time in a variety of places: Norfolk, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and Chapel Hill, North Carolina; eventually settling in Brookline, Massachusetts. In 1958, after giving birth to her fourth child, Chandler decided to become an artist, however, it wasn't until the family moved to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1963 that she began to formally train, eventually receiving a Master of Fine Arts in painting (1967) from Hoffberger Graduate School of Maryland Institute College of Art. In 1969, she founded and became the first director of the Fells Point Gallery, established to highlight the work of the Maryland Institute alumni and faculty, until its closure in 1980. In 1972, Chandler and her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she continued to pursue her art, while also using a large studio at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End. Her art was changing at this time, from primarily painting to a method of placing the canvas on the floor and applying different combinations of charcoal, pastel, ink, watercolors, enamel spray paint, acrylics, and oil paint. She also started spray-painting found objects onto a canvas and in 1977 began turning the sprayed pieces into figurative objects, frontally-oriented like a painting. She would also use found pieces that could stand alone or be joined together to make freestanding objects.

In 1988, Chandler renovated a 100-year-old engine house in Brighton, Massachusetts, offering space to artists to use as studios, as well as a place for herself, eventually moving in fulltime after the death of her husband in 2007. In 1995, she founded the Art Connection, a Boston-based organization that places artwork in non-profits and public service organizations. This unique gifting program has identified and catalogued original works of art donated by generous individuals and has supported local social service agencies in the selection of pieces that are meaningful to them. The engine house was used for the Art Connection's early board meetings. Becoming blind in one eye in 2005 did not slow Chandler down. She continued to paint, using even more intense colors than before. In spite of other subsequent injuries over the years, which forced Chandler to temporarily stop working, she continues to produce her art.

Chandler's devoted commitment to arts education has also led her to support the Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, and in appreciation of her financial support of the project for over a decade, the Sacramento Street Gallery there was renamed the Fay Chandler Gallery in 2010. She also received an Honorary Doctorate from Montserrat College in 2012. Over her career as an artist, Fay Chandler has had over thirty solo exhibitions and her work is included in the collections at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia.


The collection is arranged in three series:

  1. Series I. Biographical and Personal, 1929-2012 (#1.1-2.5, PD.1)
  2. Series II. Correspondence, 1942-2011 (#2.6-12.4)
  3. Series III. Art-related, 1958-2012 (#12.5-15.15, PD.2-PD.5v, DVD-92.1, E.1)

Physical Location

Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession numbers: 2008-M195; 2011-M32; 2011-M98; 2012-M95

The papers of Fay Chandler were given by Fay Chandler between 2008 and 2012.

Related Materials:

There is related material at the Schlesinger Library; see Additional papers of the Poor family, 1778-2008 (MC 620).

Processing Information

Processed: February 2013

By: Stacey Flatt with assistance from Samuel Bauer.

Chandler, Fay. Papers of Fay Chandler, 1929-2012 (inclusive), 1965-2010 (bulk): A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by a gift from Fay Martin Chandler.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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